MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' Fawns Over Nancy Pelosi

The July 22 edition of Morning Joe boasted an exclusive interview with Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). But before Pelosi came on set, MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts featured his own slobbering interview with the politician in their shared hometown of Baltimore. Much to co-host Mika Brzezinski’s delight, Roberts delved into “Pelosi’s political roots” which “run deep.”

The segment featured Pelosi quipping with aging Baltimore residents because, Roberts explained, “Pelosi still recognizes the power and charm of retail politics.” According to the Way Too Early host, being “the only daughter of one of Baltimore's longest serving mayors, Thomas D’Alesandro,” it was “Pelosi's childhood, answering the door at her family home, trying to help the people who came to see her dad that proved to be her political training ground.” [See video below. Click here for MP3]

As the two liberals strolled through the streets of the 7th most dangerous city in America that Pelosi left in pursuit of Democratic politics in sunny Northern California, Roberts described how “as a young woman, her father’s work would place her in the company of presidents like John Kennedy.” In fact, Roberts’ great uncle worked closely with Mayor D’Alesandro as director of public relations and “Charm City blossomed” under their watch.

To close the segment, Pelosi professed, “I'm a legislator. I love legislating. I love the compromise that comes with trying to build consensus to do some good for the American people in a way that is sustainable.” She expressed her excitement at seeing a woman president.

When Pelosi finally came on set, Brzezinski asked if it was still in her “soul to be a legislator in the current climate in Washington,” the current climate being a Republican majority. True to form, the minority leader immediately blamed Republicans for the stagnation in Congress. She claimed “it's just a stunning thing that no matter what it is, if the president is for it, the Republicans are against it, and that wasn't the way it was when we had the majority and President Bush was president.”

That out of the way, the panel moved on to foreign policy.

Roberts has a long history of trashing Republicans, including suggesting that the GOP wants to go back to when "slavery was cool."

See transcript below:

MSNBC
Morning Joe
July 22, 2014
7:23 a.m. Eastern
4 minutes


THOMAS ROBERTS: Democratic minority leader Nancy Pelosi is embarking on an aggressive push, one to reclaim the House in the November midterms. Pelosi’s political roots, they run deep, not to San Francisco as you might think but to Baltimore, our shared hometown, the highest ranking woman in American politics took me back to where it all began.

NANCY PELOSI: Hardest restaurant to get into.

ROBERTS: Democratic minority leader Nancy Pelosi still recognizes the power and charm of retail politics.

PELOSI: How are you?

BALTIMORE RESIDENT: How are you?

PELOSI: I've been praying for you.

BALTIMORE RESIDENT: Thank you.

PELOSI: Tommy says you're getting better.

BALTIMORE RESIDENT: Yeah. Well, the mortician told me the same thing.

ROBERTS: It's a part of her fabric that she admits was cultivated from an early age.

PELOSI: That's really what I learned in Baltimore, Maryland, 245 Marlboro Street Little Italy is that you have to be on the ground.

ROBERTS: Growing up, the youngest of six and the only daughter of one of Baltimore's longest serving mayors, Thomas D’Alesandro. As a young woman, her father’s work would place her in the company of presidents like John Kennedy. But it was Pelosi's childhood, answering the door at her family home, trying to help the people who came to see her dad that proved to be her political training ground. So you learned at an early age on how to connect the dots?

PELOSI: Well, you know, I wasn't even thinking in terms of that. It was that people needed help and therefore we wanted to tell them how to go about having that happen.

ROBERTS: And now it's not bad that there is a new sign on this street as well. What do you think about that? What do you think your dad would say about seeing this as Nancy D'Alesandro Pelosi?

PELOSI: He would be amused. He was really something quite special, my father. And so was my mother, but working with your uncle, they did a lot of great things.

ROBERTS: My great uncle, Thomas O’Donnell, served as Baltimore's public relations director and adviser to Pelosi's father while he was mayor during the 1950's, Charm City blossomed under the mayor and Uncle Tom as a major sports town. In growing the city's image, they brokered deals to bring the PGA, NFL, and NLB to Baltimore. I was just reading how they were instrumental in bringing the Baltimore Orioles here in the 1950's. And now the Orioles are the A.L. East leaders. Are you still an Orioles fan?

PELOSI: I sure am. The Orioles and the Giants share orange and black. So --

ROBERTS: So you can get away with it? So you can get away with it without it being a problem?

PELOSI: Of course I'm a Giants fan, but I'm also an Oriole fan after that.

ROBERTS: Since Pelosi was first elected to Congress over 25 years ago in Northern California, she's been labeled as a San Francisco liberal, a title she gladly embraces. But it is her time as 60th Speaker of the House from 2007 to 2011 that has earned her the title as the highest ranking woman in American politics. Her goal now, reclaim the house in November and help a female Democrat surpass her. So you wouldn't mind getting the gavel back, then?

PELOSI: Well, I want the Democrats to have the gavel back. I've been there, done that. It doesn't have to be me, but I do want the Democrats to have the gavel back.

ROBERTS: We have a lot of women who get bandied about names for running for higher office. And we hear the Clinton name, Elizabeth Warren. What do you think about the Pelosi name?

PELOSI: I'm a legislator. I love legislating. I love the compromise that comes with trying to build consensus to do some good for the American people in a way that is sustainable. So I'm in my arena. When I'm called the highest ranking woman in American history, that's so, but that is a title that I would gladly relinquish, and I can't wait until that's surpassed by having the first woman president of the United States, and I'm very excited about that prospect.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Excellent. Nice!

ROBERTS: It was amazing access that we got to leader Pelosi and a fun time going back to Baltimore where we got to talk about some shared history.

BRZEZINSKI: I think that was Sabatino's.

ROBERTS: It was Sabatino’s!

BRZEZINSKI: I’ve been there!

ROBERTS: And Vince in the open right there, it was great. They were so kind to host us and let us do part of our interview there, and then we walked around the old neighborhood, it was a lot of fun.

7:31 a.m. Eastern
1 minute and 28 seconds


BRZEZINSKI: Joining us now to set, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Good to have you on board. Nice job, Thomas. Good get.

ROBERTS: Thank you.

BRZEZINSKI: So Madam Speaker, we're going to talk about a bunch of different things pertaining to foreign policy in just a moment. But it was interesting, I noticed during your interview with Thomas that you talked about who you are at heart, a legislator.

PELOSI: Yes.

BRZEZINSKI: And so on that note, how is legislating in Washington these days? Some issues that you and I are aligned with, minimum wage, student loans, it's hard to get anything through. Is it still in your soul to be a legislator in the current climate in Washington?

PELOSI: Well, you have to keep -- you have to be optimistic, and you have to keep on working.

BRZEZINSKI: How do you do that?

PELOSI: Because the American people expect us and deserve for us to do that. But it's just a stunning thing that no matter what it is, if the president is for it, the Republicans are against it, and that wasn't the way it was when we had the majority and President Bush was president. We worked with -- we opposed him on the war in Iraq and privatizing social security, but beyond that, we got many things accomplished working together.

BRZEZINSKI: Have you found any common ground on any issues in -- I mean, are we overstating the fact that nothing is happening in Washington?

PELOSI: No. You are not overstating it, but we did do one bill that the president is going to sign today, a worker training bill that wasn't so good in the house, but it was approved in the senate. And we all support it, and the president's going to sign it today. That's one.

BRZEZINSKI: That's hope.

PELOSI: That's meager compared to what we really need to do.

Laura Flint
Laura Flint is a 2014 summer intern for the MRC's News Analysis Division.